Previously at the ICA - Films

Andrey Silvestrov, A House on Furmanny, 2010

Voices from the Underground

15 Nov 2014

Voices from the Underground is an afternoon of films that explore the artistic environment in Russia during, and just after, perestroika. Bringing together documentary material, most of which has never been shown in the UK, it charts a crucial period in Russian contemporary art and a breaking point in the country’s history.

Perestroika and glasnost – these two politically loaded terms have long ago entered the collective unconscious and have remained ingrained there ever since, outliving the dissolution of the USSR in 1991. They are synonymous with political reform, a relaxation of rules and impending freedom. Yet little else in cultural terms is known or understood about this short-lived period, a singular event of the late 20th century, which left behind hardly any material, cultural traces. Voices from the Underground demands, how can we understand the cultural specificity of the perestroika years and its impact on local artistic circles? What differentiates this unique historical period, and wherein lies its significance for us today?

The screenings are followed by a panel discussion with Alexandra Obukhova (Head of the Research Department, Garage Museum for Contemporary Art), filmmakers Andrey Silvestrov and Alexander Sheyn, and cultural critic Artem Troitsky.


  • Timur Novikov: Zero Object

    Timur Novikov: Zero Object Dir Alexander Shein. Russia 2014. 92 min
    Presented as an international premiere, Timur Novikov: Zero Object positions the late artist Timur Novikov as protagonist in this exploration of underground art from St Petersburg. As well as providing a historical overview of the 1980s-1990s, the film features iconic figures in St Petersburg’s underground scene: cult rocker Victor Tsoi, and artists Georgy Guryanov, Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe and Sergey ‘Africa’ Bugaev, among others. From beginning to end, it’s a manifesto for personal and artistic freedom in a forbidding political climate.

  • A House on Furmanny

    A House on Furmanny Dir Andrey Silvestrov. Russia 2010. 52 min
    In the late 1980s, a now infamous squat appeared on Moscow’s Furmanny Lane, which quickly became a gathering point for the most promising young artists of the time (Mukhomory, Vadim Zakharov, Yury Albert, and Andrey Filippov, among others) and just daring, high-spirited individuals. The inhabitants of “Furmanny” recall life in Moscow’s first squat and the opportunities created by this unique site. The film is screened for the first time in the UK.

  • USSR Art

    USSR Art Dir Barbara Herbich. USA 1990. 40 min
    The first art auction in Moscow conducted by Sotheby’s took place in the summer of 1988. It became a turning point in the history of contemporary Russian art, the first time that Soviet art collided head-on with the full Western market force. USSR Art uses this seminal event as a platform from which to explore the effect of glasnost on art in the Soviet Union.

Voices from the Underground is conceived and organized by Olya Borissova and Anya Harrison.

Olya Borissova is a London-based film programmer whose projects include developing film programmes for Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, where she initiated Garage Screen, a programme of artist films and documentaries.

Anya Harrison is an independent writer, curator and consultant, currently residing in London. She has previously worked on the book Frozen Dreams: Contemporary Art from Russia and organised exhibitions and special projects at Garage Museum of Contemporary Art.

The ICA Cinema is now completely ad-free. Please note the feature will start following a selection of trailers and information relevant to the ICA programme. All films are 18+ unless otherwise stated.


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